Well, at least he’s consistent.
Last week, after a one-point loss to the Eagles, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis railed on the replacement referees.
This week, after a one-point win over the Patriots, Lewis was at it again.
Via 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, Lewis complained about a penalty called on safety Ed Reed for hitting New England receiver Deion Branch in the head while defenseless. The penalty fueled a drive that resulted in a field goal that extended the Patriots’ fourth-quarter lead to nine.
“He turned his head to the side and clearly hit him with his shoulder pad,” Lewis said. “Those things cannot affect the way this game is played. And then the saddest part about it is when you hear other people say, ‘Oh, those are the rules.’ For real? That’s not the rules. The rules of this game is, ‘Do whatever you gotta do, by any means necessary.'”
It would be easy to crack a joke right here, but Ray’s ignorance of the rules is alarming. Does no one in the Ravens organization explain these rules to the players? Or does coach John Harbaugh show them a Saturday night Power Point presentation that says, “The rules are there ain’t no rules”? Or has Ray simply delivered and/or received too many helmet-to-helmet hits of his own?
Lewis has been playing the game long enough to know better. And when it comes to the hit applied by Reed to Branch, Lewis ignores the fact that Reed hit Branch in the helmet. Defenseless players can’t be hit with a helmet or in the head/neck area. While helmet-to-helmet hits are a subset of the forbidden types of contact against defenseless players, a forearm, elbow, shoulder, midsection, etc. to the head of a defenseless player should always trigger a flag.
Making Ray’s rant even less persuasive is the fact that folks are now pointing (incorrectly, we believe) to the absence of flags on key helmet-to-helmet hits like the one against Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay as evidence that the replacements are jeopardizing the safety of players. First, the regular officials often misses calls like that. Second, the league office doesn’t miss them, dishing out five-figure fines on the following Friday.
But reason and logic and common sense don’t matter. As explained earlier this morning, the tipping point has been reached regarding the officiating lockout. Ray’s remarks — nonsensical as they may be — capture the mood of the fans, from hardcore to casual. The NFL needs to get this worked out, or the fans will soon be voting with their wallets and their eyeballs.